While Santa Claus rides a sleigh, shimmies down chimneys and delivers gifts all around the world, La Bafana does almost the same thing in Italy. La Bafana, a soot covered, haggard, old, but well-intentioned witch, chooses to ride around the country on a broomstick to deliver her gifts. The character was recreated in the 13th century and inspired by an ancient year-end pagan custom. As legend has it, she turned down an offer from the three wise men to visit baby Jesus in his manger and now delivers gifts every year to make up for her regretful mistake.
Christmas trees in the Ukraine feature much more than just tinsel and ornaments – they include spider webs for good luck. The custom dates back to a Ukrainian legend where a poor mother had no decorations for her family’s Christmas tree. After the children cried themselves to sleep, friendly spiders got to work and spun light-reflective webs to decorate the tree. On Christmas morning, the children awoke to find the beautifully decorated tree and the family became prosperous and lucky from that day on.
Catalonian Poop Log
If you ever find yourself in the Catalonia region of Spain it will be helpful to know that they have a log that poops out presents for Christmas. The tradition of the “Caga Tio”, which literally means “poop uncle”, begins on December 8 during the Feast of Immaculate Conception. Every night until Christmas, children “feed” the log, which is covered by a blanket, fruits and nuts to make it “bigger”. On Christmas Day, families gather around the log and sing songs to make it “poop” presents – usually candy, coins and small toys.
Thanks to a successful 1970s marketing campaign, fried chicken has become synonymous with Christmas in Japan. The 1974 “Kurisumasu ni wa ketakii!” (Kentucky for Christmas) campaign was so well done, that a bucket of “Christmas chicken” is now the go-to meal of the holiday. The meal, which also includes cake and champagne, is sold for about US$40 (B1,300) at any KFC outlet anywhere in Japan.
Otherwise known as the Christmas demon, the Krampus is a beast-like creature from folklore of Alpine countries. Since Santa Claus gives presents to good children, Krampus visits the naughty kids and drags them into the black forest. The Krampus dates back to pagan traditions and the story has adapted to fit with the holiday. Every December 5 men in several countries, including Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia, dress up as the creature and roam the streets frightening children with rusty chains and bells.
Note: 3D illustration by Quince Media - click here.